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Categorizing SoundGenre and Twentieth-Century Popular Music$
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David Brackett

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780520248717

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520248717.001.0001

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From Jazz to Pop

From Jazz to Pop

Swing in the 1940s

(p.149) 5 From Jazz to Pop
Categorizing Sound

David Brackett

University of California Press

“Swing,” as the most commercially successful variety of jazz, became the mainstream of popular music during the late 1930s. The growth in popularity of jukeboxes broadened the popular music field, facilitating greater involvement of African Americans, and paving the way for the success of swing and the greater tracking of race records. The contrasting histories of two versions of “Tuxedo Junction,” one by Erskine Hawkins and one by Glenn Miller, are used to highlight the intertwining of aesthetics, race, and how popularity was discussed and represented at the time. After World War II, swing declined in popularity, resulting in a reshuffling of the hierarchy of popular music genres. The Count Basie novelty recording of “Open the Door, Richard” illustrates the reduced opportunities for African Americans in mainstream popular music, in which recordings associated with African Americans and other minority groups evoked minstrelsy and/or relied on racial stereotypes.

Keywords:   jazz, jukeboxes, race records, swing, aesthetics, Erskine Hawkins, Glenn Miller, Count Basie, minstrelsy, novelty

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